The NFL has completed its review of Green Bay’s COVID protocol violations. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers has escaped with a slap on the wrist.
According to the NFL, the Packers have been fined $300,000 for COVID protocol violations. Rodgers and receiver Allen Lazard have been fined $14,650 each for attending the Halloween party while unvaccinated, according to the discipline schedule negotiated by the NFL and the NFLPA. Per the league, the joint COVID protocols prohibit unvaccinated players from gathering outside of the club facility in a group of more than three players.
The league said the Packers were warned that future violations could result in escalated discipline, including possible change of draft position or loss of draft choices.
“The Club was fully cooperative in the investigation into violations of the collectively bargained NFL-NFLPA protocols,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT.
As to the press conferences at which Rodgers spoke within the facility, the league concedes that “there’s no argument that Aaron Rodgers should have been wearing a mask.” However, Rodgers wasn’t fined by the league for the press conference violations, because (per the league) the primary responsibility falls on the club to enforce the protocols.
The league also reviewed “substantial video” from the club facility. “While the review showed a few isolated instances of Rodgers and Allen Lazard failing to wear a mask in facility, they were substantially compliant otherwise,” McCarthy said. “There was no widespread or systemic mask-wearing violations.”
The fine for the Packers includes the Halloween party. “The team didn’t sanction the party but they were aware of it after it took place and did not discipline Rodgers or Lazard and failed to report their violations to the league,” McCarthy said.
“We respect the League’s findings and we recognize the importance of adherence to the COVID protocols to keep our team and organization safe and healthy,” Packers CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement, via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “We will continue to educate the team regarding the importance of the protocols and remain committed to operating within the protocols.”
Obviously, however, they didn’t. Or they wouldn’t be shelling out $300,000.
The league has responsibility for this as well. It set up a system that requires teams to harass and harangue players to comply. What did anyone expect the Packers to do when it came to Rodgers, who already was upset with the organization? Chase him around and wag a finger at him every time he broke protocol?
Moving forward, the Packers will have to do that or face draft-pick penalties. Per the league, Rodgers also was warned by the NFL that future violations will result in increased discipline, including a possible suspension.